It’s been a strange week if like me you’ve stayed in Melbourne and gone back to school and work. While it’s been a bit hard to get back into the swing of things, we managed a short getaway to Phillip Island over the Easter break but given the traffic delays getting there, I think half of Melbourne decided to holiday on that side. Instead of the usual two hours, it took us four so I was really relieved to get there before it got dark.
We had booked the dog-friendly Barefoot Beach House (front lounge room at dusk pictured above) located in Cowes walking distance to town and with the beach at the end of the street. It was also walking distance to the Cowes General Store which meant we didn’t have to jump back in the car to place our fish and chip order and the fish was excellent, although the burgers there also get great reviews. The house itself was lovely – even better than it looks in the photos and I particularly enjoyed the carpeted master bedroom which was like a parents’ retreat complete with ensuite and TV (which is more than I have in my current bedroom!). Wendy, the owner, has a great eye for colour and design and it was beautifully furnished with some quality appliances that made the whole stay that bit nicer and a little bit luxe.
Because of the crowds, we didn’t stop in San Remo on the way in, which is also a fishing mecca (and a good place to get fish and chips) and if you are there around midday – you can see the pelicans being fed or look at the stingrays in the water at the marina. We also bypassed Woolamai which again was a bit of shame as I like the laid-back feel of surf beaches however the one smart thing I had done was pre-book tickets a month beforehand to see the Penguin Parade that was sold out (pictured above) and is now absolutely massive on the Island.
It’s a credit to the non-profit organisation that runs it that it’s grown and developed to such a large extent without government funding although it’s also now a logistical exercise getting there. We parked in the paddock and then got onto the coach buses that ferry you to the actual Penguin Parade centre itself which is being further developed. We got there as the sun started to go down (bring something warm to sit on as well as wear on the concrete bleachers) and I’d bring binoculars next time! It’s hard to see the penguins coming out of the water so much better once they head to their burrows on the beach and you leave the seated areas to get up close and personal with the Little Penguins (no longer called Fairy Penguins) on the wooden boardwalks that lead back to the centre. I’m glad I waited until my kids were a bit older as it’s a long night if you have babies or toddlers in tow event even with daylight savings now ended.
I was happy to spend time in Cowes walking along the beach in the mornings to get to the main street. There are some lovely shops that are now there including Tyde which is next door to Mad Cowes cafe beach-side. I had seen Luxe Isle and Front Room online but didn’t get a chance to visit. Some of the more upmarket restaurants also looked lovely including Isola Di Capri and Pino’s Trattoria on the main drag, although we ran out of time to have dinner out one night.
We spent one afternoon at the Cowes Antiques Bazaar which was also fun. Mr Rosanna picked up some vinyl – Mondo Rock’s Chemistry album which has some great tracks on it including my new go-to karaoke song Cool World and I found a brand new Moroccan market basket (both pictured below) at half the usual price. We also spent another afternoon catching up with one of my friends whose family have always had a beach house there.
While it was great to have a mini-break, I’ve had a pretty full-on start to my year and we’ve come back to sickness in our household so have started booking another holiday in the sun for later this year. It won’t be as glamorous as Greece this time around but I think you need to have something to look forward to when you lead a busy life. I hope you had a great break too!
Thank goodness for Easter. My friends who are religious have been fasting for a while now and I hope they enjoy Easter Sunday when it comes. Lucky you if you’re going away for the break or taking the additional days off between Easter and Anzac Day to have an extended holiday.
Speaking of eating, I had dinner with my besties at Pigro in East Ivanhoe Village a few weeks ago and it was great – I had the seafood linguini and a pannacotta for dessert. Not surprisingly, the well-heeled local silver foxes and vixens were out as well as families with older children. My only criticism is that cracked black pepper wasn’t available which I found a little strange given the prices.
I’ve also noticed that Ministry of Cakes is coming to the Greville Road shops in East Rosanna replacing the previous cake shop, which I had always found a bit lacklustre in terms of presentation and customer service even though I’d heard the cakes were good. It’s not enough to have a good product sometimes, you need the whole package in these competitive times.
My BFF Jules wore a beautiful new season jacket from Flat Iron Kew at our dinner out and I think they’re a brilliant example of local people doing retail (and hospitality with their attached wine bar) exceptionally well – it helps to have a demographic who have a high disposable income, which is not the case for all suburbs.
Given we had a rare sport-free weekend last weekend – we visited the Melbourne Book Market which is currently on at the Queen Victoria Sunday market until August. It was glorious in the sunshine and we also enjoyed the Sri Lankan food and music stalls that were also on show. Each of us in our family ended up with a book. What did I buy with my $10? The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje (below) which I’ve already started reading.
A cautionary tale too this Easter – the flu is out and it’s a particularly deadly strain this year – the flu shot is now available and I will be making sure all of us in our family are vaccinated asap. Safe travels if you are away this Easter and enjoy the mini-break.
It’s a beautiful time of year with all the trees changing colour and leaves all around us in this part of Melbourne. We have a property full of trees like many people in Banyule and surrounding municipalities and have needed the advice and service of arborists in the decade that we’ve lived in north-eastern Melbourne. It’s been timely to have met Russell’s partner Bianca through our local primary school and to discover Assured Tree Care who we will be calling on for further advice for our property – as you can see it’s definitely handy to know someone who knows all about trees, and isn’t afraid to climb them! Read on for more about Russell Shepherd and qualify for a discount if you’re interested in his services.
Name: Russell Shepherd Occupation: Owner/Arborist – Assured Tree Care Pty Ltd
How long have you lived/worked here? I’ve lived in Greensborough most of my life. I moved to Yallambie 15 years ago where I now live with my wife Bianca and daughters Ella and Maya. I have worked locally across Melbourne for my entire career.
Describe yourself/what you do: I have been an arborist for 20 years. I previously worked for a couple of different companies before returning to studies to undertake a Diploma in Arboriculture and Vocational Education and Training. While there I also had the opportunity to teach at NMIT (now Melbourne Polytechnic) for 2.5 years. A colleague was selling his existing business so we purchased Assured Tree Care and reinvented to what it is today. We have now been running our business for nearly 10 years. I love being in the industry and being able to work outdoors. We do a variety of work from tree removals to pruning and have also helped build new habitats for endangered species. We have established a relationship with regular clients including Schools and Universities, Defence Housing Australia and a long list of wonderful existing and new clients.
In my down time I enjoy spending time with my family, cooking, gardening, and travelling. I am also a keen 4WD enthusiast and try to get away for trips when I can. I have always enjoyed working with my hands and tinkering with projects. There are never enough hours in the day to get everything done and I think sometimes we need to take a step back and examine what is most important to us!
Best thing(s) about living/working in Melbourne’s north-east: The greenery! Despite the pressure from development we have locally some great flora and fauna that makes Banyule special.
Easter is a little while away but the hot cross buns have been on sale for a few weeks now and I’ve already been indulging. There are also a heap of Easter activities on over the school holiday period including Easter in April from 10am – 1pm at the Lower Plenty Shopping Centre and Easter Market at 10am at Rosanna Village in Rosanna on Saturday 13 April plus an Easter Egg Hunt from 10am – 3pm on Upper Heidelberg Road in Ivanhoe (pick up your clue sheet from the Australian Chocolate Emporium) on Tuesday 18 April, pop up Easter fun from 4 – 6pm at Monty Village on Thursday 18 April and the Easter Bunny making appearances at the Bell Street Mall in Heidelberg West from 10am – 1pm.
Montmorency Village is also holding Music in the Park this Saturday from 10am – 1pm and then again on Saturday 20 April if you are having a staycation these term 1 school holidays. It’s a bit strange having the Easter and Anzac Day public holidays leading into the first week of term 2 and I know a number of people who are taking days off during that week to have an extended holiday break. Lucky them!
It’s been there for a while but I also finally visited Sweet by Nature (photos above) on Bamfield Road in the back streets of industrial Heidelberg West during the week to pick up an impromptu birthday cake. It’s like an Aladdin’s Cave of sweet treats and a hidden surprise in the area if you’re after some gorgeous cakes, gifts or Easter presents! I couldn’t help myself and bought two of the bunny iced shortbread biscuits that were on offer. Besides the shop and coffee counter, there is a seated cafe area as well as external tables which Mr Rosanna was interested in as a keen cyclist always on the lookout for pit stops when going on local rides with his mates.